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University of Northern Iowa promises to return to classroom education next fall

Similar to an advertisement from the University of Iowa last month that promised a more traditional campus experience next fall, the University of Northern Iowa on Monday promised a “return to the high-quality classroom education we are known for” in the upcoming academic year.

In a message to campus, UNI President Mark Nook said his institution for fall 2021 will maintain “some of our safety measures in classrooms” while increasing capacity in classrooms, lunchrooms and spaces. common. UNI will reopen retail catering operations and resume events on campus.

Nook, in his message, admitted that UNI will continue to monitor public health advisories and maintain "some online options" for stakeholders.

"The past year has been a challenge for our campus community and I thank all of our students, staff and faculty for doing their part to keep us safe," Nook said in his message, which came almost a year after all. three public universities imposed an immediate switch to virtual education upon the arrival of the pandemic in the United States and Iowa.

Following the complete shutdown of most in-person learning and work at Iowa public universities last spring, all three cautiously reopened in the fall for an entirely different student experience – no big face-to-face lectures, lunchroom meals, sucking. wheel and football. field trips and other campus rituals.

Many students only had online classes. They lost the freedom to enter the open rooms of the university residence. They missed the fever of the traditional Greek system, if they wanted to. And many left the campus entirely, hoping that it would be remade next year.

Last month, UI officials, such as UNI, promised to set the stage for a "residential campus experience in fall 2021" by holding "as many face-to-face courses as possible while maintaining flexibility."

This year, the UI courses of 50 or more students switched online, along with those taught by instructors who requested it, meaning that three-quarters of UI undergraduate instruction was conducted virtually. Next year, courses with fewer than 150 students will be held in person.

"This means that some conference sections with more than 150 students can move online, while the discussion and lab sections meet in person," according to a February UI message. "Instructors wishing to conduct a large in-person conference or move a smaller course online must submit a request and justification."

ISU and UNI moved fewer courses to the fully virtual realm (in percentage) and UNI reported this week that it is offering around 70 percent of in-person classes this semester.

"The university has maintained a high level of face-to-face courses during the pandemic," according to a UNI message. “University leaders predict that, in the future, approximately 10 to 15 percent of their courses will be offered online, specifically general education and other high-demand courses.”

The state of Iowa has not released details of its plans for next fall.

But all three plans recently announced for some in-person graduation events, after Republican lawmakers proposed a bill that would have required them to do so.

Colleges canceled in-person graduation ceremonies last spring, replacing those celebrations with virtual and videotaped events and messages. They also rejected the start of winter 2020 face to face, and UI and UNI had delivered the "disappointing" news that this spring's graduation would be available online again, until the legislation was proposed.

All three colleges are working on details of their graduation options and fall offerings. And all three are doing so after suffering enrollment losses this academic year, at least in part due to the non-traditional college experience that the pandemic imposed on campuses.

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